The fatal police shooting of a man in a Southern California beach community has Los Angeles' police chief "very concerned," and his initial comments about the confrontation drew a swift response from the union representing officers.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck's comments Wednesday afternoon came hours after the shooting death of an unarmed homeless man in Venice.
"I am very concerned about this shooting," Beck said, adding that the department is planning to interview more witnesses and the officer who fired his weapon.
Beck, who has seen video of the shooting, added that it generally takes "extraordinary circumstances" for police to shoot an unarmed person, and it's unclear whether those circumstances existed in Tuesday night's shooting.
The surveillance video has not been released.
The shooting occurred around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday on Windward Avenue just west of Pacific Avenue. Police said two officers initially responded to a call about a person harassing people on Windward Avenue. They spoke briefly to the man, who walked away toward the boardwalk, police said.
The officers returned to their car but then saw the man struggling with someone on the sidewalk. The officers approached and a struggle ensued, ending with the shooting.
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It was unclear how many shots were fired.
After the man was struck by gunfire, the officers called an ambulance and performed CPR, Beck said.
The suspect died at a hospital.
The chief said Los Angeles Police Department investigators had not yet interviewed the officer who opened fire on the suspect because he was still on medication after being treated for a knee injury suffered in the altercation.
"I don't know what was in the officer's mind," Beck said. "We expect to know more tomorrow (Thursday). At this point, it appears that it was a physical altercation."
Craig Lally, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents LAPD officers, called Beck's comments "completely irresponsible" and said it is too early to suggest the shooting may have been improper.
"As the final trier of fact in the use-of-force investigation and disciplinary process, the premature decision by the chief essentially renders the investigation process void," Lally said. "Additionally, by making his opinion public without having all of the facts, he influences the investigation for all parties involved, including his command officers and the public.
"As in the criminal justice system, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. We encourage everyone to reserve judgment until the investigation has run its course, and the facts are collected and assessed."
Beck said the department is working with the District Attorney's Office and the LAPD's independent inspector general to investigate the shooting.
"We will expend all resources to find out the truth of what happened last night on Windward Avenue," he said.
Beck said during Wednesday's news conference that both officers involved were veteran officers in the Pacific Division. Beck also said that both the man who died and the officer who shot him were black men.
The suspect's name was not immediately released, but acquaintances identified him as 29-year-old Brendon Glenn, who came from New York City. Glenn had sought shelter and assistance at The Teen Project's Venice P.A.D. homeless center, according to the center's Timothy Pardue.
"He said he wanted his mom," Pardue said of a recent conversation with Glen. "I said, 'Can you get home?' He said, 'I can’t go home they won’t let me come home.'"
People who knew Glenn told the Los Angeles Times that he was a kind man who constantly told people he loved them. He was known for his "hand hugs” -- grabbing hold of someone’s hand before saying goodbye. Glenn treated his black Lab mix, Dozer, like "his baby,” one man told the newspaper.
But they acknowledged he also had his struggles, The Times reported.
The Venice shooting death comes more than two months after another fatal shooting that involved LAPD officers. On March 1, officers opened fire on a man during a scuffle that was caught on surveillance cameras, police body cameras and witness video on Skid Row.
The man who was shot and killed tried to grab one an officer's gun before the shooting, police said.